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June 01, 2005

Speaking of Ire...

The Daily Howler uses its verbal trebuchet to launch a rhetorical cow in the direction of Daniel Okrent:

Daily Howler: Daniel Okrent finally leaves--taking a cheap shot at Krugman: What a truly amazing flyweight is departed Times public editor Daniel Okrent! Yesterday, Okrent concluded his unfortunate reign, discussing thirteen topics he somehow avoided during his eighteen months of service.... Below, we present the second of these thirteen ruminations, in full. But alas! As Okrent slices and dices Paul Krugman, he provides the perfect public showcase for his fly-weight intellectual standards and his unexplained but omnipresent resentment. Try to believe that he actually wrote such a cheap slasher piece! Again, it's the second thing he "meant to write about" but somehow never did:

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults....

[S]ome of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

I didn't give Krugman, Dowd or Safire the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.

Good grief! If the ivory-billed 'pecker is the "Lord God bird," that must be the "Lord God third paragraph....

In the case of Dowd and Safire, Okrent at least provides specific complaints... at least semi-valid.... But what about Krugman? Okrent goes after his troubling poster boy hard--but he doesn't cite a single specific example of the gentleman's troubling conduct! He calls Krugman every name in the book--but after eighteen months on the job, he doesn't give a single example of Krugman's deeply disturbing conduct. How exactly is someone like Krugman supposed to respond to such work?

For the record, Krugman is quite a bum--if you listen to Okrent. According to the exercised editor, Krugman "has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers." Beyond that, Krugman is "ideological" and "unfair," Okrent says--and he seems to say that the slippery scribe selects his misleading numbers in a fashion designed to "please his acolytes." These are very nasty charges. But in the style of classic hit-and-run bullies, Okrent provides no examples of his target's troubling conduct, and he bravely offers these ringing complaints in his final public editor column, depriving Krugman of a chance to respond (and knowing he wo't have to defend himself against the complaints that will come).

How big and brave is the mighty Okrent--this big, bold man who slithers away with so many loud complaints? The big, brave fellow had eighteen months to offer examples of Krugman's misconduct, but even now, he offers none.... In his very next item--undiscussed Topic 3--Okrent complains that three other writers have failed to let the great New York Times serve "as a guardian of civil discussion!" Was this an attempt at comic relief? Or is it the sign of a consummate flyweigh--the sign of a man who waded far over his head when offered this unwise assignment?...

The exercised ed had eighteen months to offer examples of Krugman's misconduct. Instead, he waits until his final column, then provides exactly no examples of the crimes he lustily limns.... [I]n Sunday's closing (cheap) shot against Krugman, he showed himself again as a cheap, petty thug--and as a flyweight for the ages. How does America's most important newspaper have such a flyweight in such a high post? We'll examine that important question all week, starting tomorrow with Okrent's Topic 5--an item which is almost perfect in its pure unalloyed dumbness.

Posted by DeLong at June 1, 2005 12:19 PM